SHAZZANOriginal Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1967
Creator: Alex Toth
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the funny stuff that had dominated in the past. But this one wasn't a typical sci-fi or superhero thriller. It was richly endowed with the trappings of Arabian Nights (no relation), complete with wizards and genies and a winged camel, but it still managed to star a couple of contemporary American kids.
Shazzan started on CBS, on September 9, 1967, when a pair of twins, Chuck and Nancy, explored a seaside cave in Maine, and found the two parts of a broken ring. When put back together, the ring transported them to the land of Middle Eastern fairy tales. There, Shazzan, a 60-foot genie, told Chuck and Nancy they could go home only after they'd returned the ring to its rightful owner. He gave them various magical things, including a cloak of invisibility and a winged camel named Kaboobie, to help them on their way.
The thing about the series that probably most fascinated its young viewers was also, quite likely, its greatest weakness. In addition to his devices and his livestock, the twins had Shazzan's personal services, and frequently called on him to bail them out of trouble (which usually came in the form of evil schemers trying to get the ring); and Shazzan was simply too powerful to allow room for very much suspense.
Shazzan's voice was done by character actor Barney Phillips, who is better known for face acting than voice acting. Chuck was Jerry Dexter (Drak), and Nancy was Janet Waldo (Penelope Pitstop). Don Messick, the voice of Kaboobie, seemed to be Hanna-Barbera's voice man of choice for pets. He also did The Jetsons' dog, Josie's cat, and Scooby-Doo. The man who created the show, designing its fantastic characters and setting, was cartoonist Alex Toth, who also designed Space Ghost and The Mighty Mightor, and drew some very highly regarded comic books for DC, Dell and other publishers.
The series lasted two seasons, 36 episodes in all, but it kept coming back. It was combined with The Herculoids, Frankenstein Jr. and other Hanna-Barbera adventure shows to form Hanna-Barbera's World of Super Adventure in the 1980s, and Super Adventures in the '90s.
The Shazzan series never anchored a comic book title of its own, but was a major feature in Hanna-Barbera Super TV Heroes, which Gold Key published for five issues from 1967-69, and which it shared with Birdman & the Galaxy Trio, Moby Dick, and other adventure cartoons. There was also a Big Little Book in 1968, part of Whitman's last wave of publications in that format. Not to mention the usual array of toys, clothing, etc., sporting images from the series. As recently as 1998, DC Comics featured Shazzan in an issue of Cartoon Network Presents.
As far as we know, by the way, Shazzan is no relation to Shazam, the ancient wizard who powered up Captain Marvel and his spin-offs. Of course, Hanna-Barbera and DC Comics (which owns that version of Captain Marvel) are both part of the same media mega-conglomerate now, so it's probably just a matter of time before some writer or editor dreams one up.